Just how transit-friendly is the City of Philadelphia? While perhaps not quite as friendly for public transport as the cities of New York and Washington D.C., Philadelphia has a very good public transportation system known as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The system is easy to use and budget-friendly which allows you to travel easily within the city and to some surrounding suburbs too.
How Many People Use Public Transport Run By SEPTA in Philly?
The public transport system in Philly averages approximately 300 million rides a year and was ranked #9 in the country for its public transport. Philadelphia, PA also has a transit score of 70. If you are visiting Philadelphia, it can be much easier to use public transport instead of renting a vehicle since the core of Center City is relatively small.
What Kinds of Public Transport Options Are Available in Philly?
Philly’s public transit system runs through the city, and surrounding suburbs, and offers a raft of options for travel, including regional trains, subway trains in some parts, buses, and over-ground trolleys. Cash fares for buses, trolleys, subways, and trackless trolleys start from $2.50. An exact cash fare is required as drivers do not offer change. Also, in some cases, you must purchase your ticket in advance before getting on board and the on-board fare is typically higher than the pre-purchased fare.
The SEPTA buses in Philly have the most wide-ranging options for people who want to travel around the city. Buses are frequent and cover multiple areas throughout the city. Some routes even run 24 hours a day.
The trolleys are almost the same as riding a bus, except they are really only available in West Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Philadelphia has two subway lines:
- The Broad Street Subway is the main line in the city and runs only north and south on the same street.
- The Market-Frankford line is the other subway line that runs largely east and west across the city with many stations in between. It starts at the Frankford Transportation Center and goes all the way to City Hall and out to 63rdstreet.
There are 12 regional train lines in Philadelphia, not including others that you can use to get to downtown Philadelphia. Think of the Regional Train Lines as the spokes on a wheel and center city as the hub of the wheel. Nearly all regional lines connect directly to Center City Philadelphia.
There are numerous stops along the regional lines. If you live in the Northeast, riders generally take the West Trenton Line or the Fox Chase Line. As an aside, there is great car parking at some of these train stops, with parking lots being exceptional at Fox Chase, Bethayres, and Somerton. In the Northwest, which also includes Roxborough, riders will generally take the Norristown line and have a choice of several train stations including Ivy Ridge, Manayunk, and Wissahickon. Visit Septa.org/maps/system/indSepta.org/maps/system/index.htm for more information.
If you arrive from Philly airport, you can take a regional rail train. Also, generally, you will need these trains if you leave the city to reach any of the nearby suburbs like Montgomery County and Bucks County.
Once you understand the points of intersection, you can mix and match. For example, you can take the Market-Frankford Line to Center City, hop off, and take a regional Train to Montgomery County.
What is the SEPTA Key Fare program?
The SEPTA Key fare program was introduced to make it easier to take public transport. It is a reloadable card that can be used on most transit options in the city. You can load it as a weekly or monthly pass with a range of options including an Independence Pass or One-Day Convenience pass. You can easily customize the key card options to your specific travel needs. Keep in mind this started out as a pilot program and it was only available for use on a limited number of routes. *confirm with SEPTA that the card will work for the routes you need.
How Accessible is Philly’s Public Transport?
The buses and trolleys in the city are generally well equipped with ramps and elevators to assist passengers with better accessibility. But it is important to check the website and confirm in advance.
How to Get Around Philly?
With so many public transport options, it’s easy to get around most Philly neighborhoods without any trouble. From Thursday to Sunday nights, the subway runs throughout the day. Buses and trolley schedules may change on weekends so it is important to check ahead of any trip. Philly has a great walk score and is a very walkable city.